by Teng Yong Ping
SINGAPORE — LGBTQ rally Pink Dot went digital-only for the first time in its 12-year history on Saturday (27 June), as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented its annual physical gathering at Hong Lim Park.
Organisers livestreamed a one-and-a-half hour video programme hosted by actress Pam Oei and Pink Dot’s organising committee member Harris Zaidi. The show featured musical performances from queer artists and allies, and films that shared the stories of queer Singaporeans.
Performers included 35 local drag queens as well as singers Chris Hong, Leon Markcus, Qyo, Mathilda D’Silva, Charlie Lim, Joanna Dong and the band The Apex Project.
Pink Dot organisers wanted to recreate a safe space of affirmation for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community despite not being able to hold the usual gathering at Hong Lim Park. Host Harris said, “This is our shout-out to you – you are not alone. We’re sending you so much love. This is out to show you that you are still supported; you still have community right here.”
Pink Dot told Yahoo News Singapore that the livestream had a peak of 6,800 live views during its live broadcast.
Ahead of the livestream, organisers called for people across Singapore to light up their homes with pink lights, in lieu of Pink Dot’s traditional night light-up of Hong Lim Park. Households across the island responded to the call, decorating their homes and windows with fairy lights to affirm their support for LGBTQ equality.
LGBTQ rights supporters left messages on Pink Dot’s website and indicated their location in Singapore on a virtual map. As the finale to Pink Dot’s livestream, a “digital light-up” was unveiled that showcased all the messages dotted across the island.
Gay make-up artist Beno Lim, 51, said, “I loved the virtual Pink Dot which showed support from every part of the island. It felt like the whole of Singapore was watching together. I put up pink lights to support Pink Dot 2020 and watched the livestream with four of my friends over dinner.”
Heterosexual ally Sze Sian, 30, watched the Pink Dot livestream with her husband and two-year-old daughter at her gay friend’s home. “Love is love,” she said. “We are all human and we all deserve to feel accepted, supported, and understood, especially in this place we all call home.”
Livia Tan, 28, a lesbian, said, “I found it very heartwarming that even though we were not together physically this year, I could still feel the sense of camaraderie and love across our island. People who can’t go to the annual Pink Dot for different reasons could watch at home and understand they are not alone.”
Greys Chua, a 35-year-old bisexual, applauded the move to bring Pink Dot online. “It was such a new but more emotional experience. I think this time we could focus on the messaging and stories more because there were no external distractions.”
Pink Dot organisers have called for homosexuality to be decriminalised, and for an end to discrimination against LGBTQ people in Singapore. Pink Dot said the crowd at the Hong Lim Park rallies numbered as much as 28,000 over the years.
Three separate legal challenges against Section 377A of the Penal Code, a law which criminalises sex between men, were dismissed by the High Court in March this year.
You can watch the Pink Dot 2020 livestream recording here: